When breath becomes air

I actually posted this excerpt once before, but I just finished Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air and was moved anew by his missive to his infant daughter:

When you come to one of the many moments in life when you must give an account of yourself, provide a ledger of what you have been, and done, and meant to the world, do not, I pray, discount that you filled a dying man’s days with a sated joy, a joy unknown to me in all my prior years, a joy that does not hunger for more and more, but rests, satisfied. In this time, right now, that is an enormous thing.

Earlier in the book, in conversations with his oncologist about coming to terms with how to spend his life with cancer, this entreaty comes up multiple times:

Find your values.

In his moving memoir (which doesn’t at all belittle fields like radiology), Kalanithi softly and compellingly argues that this is the key to how you live like you were dying.

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